New kids on the block: Paisley York

Words: Chelsea Haith
Photographs: Jay Haji

Brogan Muir and Chloe Layla Kirsten are the two parts of the indie musical project, Paisley York. They are witty, fun and they pay for their own coffee which immediately recommends them not only as a band but as people you’d want to be friends with.

I met the duo at Wolves Café, the little coffee and cake spot in Illovo, Joburg, founded by Desmond and the Tutus frontman Shane Durrant. Over coffee and croissants the indie-guitar and vocals duo discussed appropriating stripper names, writing music from heartbreak and shared their plans for 2015.

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A: What is the provenance of your name?
Chloe: Are you going to get food? Is this going to be in the interview?
A: Yes it will and I am going to get food.
Chloe: I think I’m going to have bacon. Are four rashers of bacon too much?
A: It is a lot. But not enough, there is never enough bacon. So, tell us about your band name?
Chloe: First of all, when I was gigging solo for fun, I was Chloe Layla, which is my full name, and then Rosy York, which is my stripper name: Your first pet and the name of the road you grew up on. Brogan’s is Rockefeller Republic, which is pretty cool. But, we felt like there were too many Republics. And then Brogan’s girlfriend was wearing paisley pants at our practice once, and don’t tell anyone, we were putting it into a band name generator on the internet.
Brogan: And then we had Paisley Chalk, or Paisley York. And the name kind of stuck.
Chloe: I slept on it a bit. I SMSed about 15 of my closest friends because I am really indecisive.
A: That’s brilliant, it’s like crowd-sourcing inspiration.
Chloe: I think we need to think of a cooler story (laughs). Band name generator is not that cool.
A: But it is very honest. Which is nice.

 A: You guys in this incarnation as Paisley York are pretty new on the music scene, what has your reception been like?
Brogan: All the gigs we’ve had together have been very well received.
Chloe: We’ve had a lot of gigs in the short amount of time we’ve been playing together, they’ve gone really well. But if Brogan didn’t do half the stuff he’s done, we wouldn’t be where we are. He’s got all our gigs. He’ll ask me to do stuff and check back three weeks later, sorry, not done (they both chuckle, Brogan shaking his head).

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A: Favourite gig so far?
Chloe: We played at Social on Main and that was good.
Brogan: And the fundraiser for animals was fun.
Chloe: And the Beerhouse was fun and rowdy. People who came to the gig at Social on Main were actually listening and random people were recording us. The best crowd is when people listen, but I don’t mind if people want to chat too.

A: Do you have a timescale for an EP?
Brogan: Mid-year 2015 probably.
Chloe: I’m going to write more songs while away in Germany.
Brogan: She writes most of the songs.
Chloe: And we ‘music’ together. But lyrics are my jam. We like to play mostly originals but we need to play covers because people like to hear what they know. We like to put a little twist on covers, people like that and then they recognise us when they hear our covers. For example, people liked our Shortstraw cover and then our Jesus Freak video, which is original and got shared even more.

A: Upcoming gigs?
Brogan: We want to play here at Wolves, Arcade Empire. We’ve got lots planned for next year.
Chloe: Our goal is to play at Oppikoppi. So we need to play a CRAP LOAD of gigs to get known by August. Brogs played at Oppi in 2014 with his other band Shout Hey.
Brogan: But being in Paisley York has been easier starting out than with Shout Hey.
Chloe: Yeah, Brogs already knows all of the people so he knows who to speak to to organise gigs and that kind of thing.

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A: How do you feel about the process of getting your foot in the door in the industry, which seems to be quite insular?
Brogan: It’s hard at first. I mean, it’s easy to get people to listen to your stuff, but it’s harder to get people to follow your stuff, that’s the hardest part. The hardest thing is to keep interest. You need to keep people with you.
Chloe: We need people to take the next step and follow us and support us that way. But, we have two videos releasing. One in December and one in early January. Two originals. We don’t want to be seen as a cover band. A lot of people can sing and a lot of people can sing other people’s songs. It’s special when it’s your own songs.

A: So, Chloe, you write a lot of your own stuff, where does your inspiration come from?
(both start laughing)
Brogan: Her inspiration comes from heartbreak.
Chloe: (smiling) I went threw a pretty rough break up last year. And my mom writes a lot of great songs so I listen to her as well. My dream is to help other people get through. It sounds lame, I know. But, I’m a little bit tired of writing sad songs all of the time.

A: If you could be any musician other than yourself, who would you be?
Brogan: This is cheesy, but I want to be John Lennon.
Chloe: He’s okay. Jokes! I think I want to be Lorde. I really like her, but I would dance better. Have you seen her music videos? I like that she doesn’t conform, but yeah, she’s bad. I also like Feist and Daughter. I’m just naming people now.

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A: That ties into my question about influences, Brogan you come from a bigger collective given your involvement as the drummer in Shout Hey, so where does your sound come from?
Brogan: It’s really different because I come from a full band. I love my metal, I love Drum and Bass, I love indie, anything ‘music’ really.
Chloe: The guys in Shout Hey are all so young but so good. Everyone listen to Shout Hey! What my mom brought me up on is great. The Cure, stuff like that.

A: What bands or artists are you guys seeing as up and coming in the South African scene?
Chloe: Chanel Van T and Thor Rixon. Thor Rixon is great!
Brogan: An amazing musician from Cape Town to watch is Gary Thomas. And Guy Buttery is incredible.
Chloe: Al Bairre, the kids love them. And Shortstraw and December Streets of course.

A: Would you guys consider branching out?
Chloe: I’d like to bring in some electronic vibes.
Brogan: There are so many things we’d already be doing if we had the money.
Chloe: Yeah, money hey! It’s a bitch.

Say The Word, the duo’s latest original release, is atmospheric, heart-breaking and gives the pair space to show off the vocal talent in the project. Jesus Freak, released earlier in 2014, is hard-hitting, angry and is the closest the pair has come to a dance track. To hear more from them follow them on Facebook, Twitter and find their next release on YouTube before the end of January.

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